Warm winter temperatures, less snow not unprecedented in Northern Ohio

CLEVELAND - Hey, have you noticed the calendar lately? It's mid-February. I don't know about you, but for me, milder, less snowy winter weather makes the days go faster. To me, winter is flying by.

I've received several Facebook questions asking me if this winter weather is out of the ordinary. The answer is yes. Snowfall for Cleveland is a foot below normal. Canton and Akron snowfall is nearly six inches low for the season. Temperatures have been above normal, since December, averaging anywhere from four to six degrees above average.

But there's another question to answer. Is this winter weather extraordinary, or has it happened before? The answer to that question is also "it's happened before."

Take a look at some numbers. December temperatures averaged 37.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or about five degrees above normal. That's not warm enough to finish in the top 10 warmest Decembers. The warmest December occurred in 1889, when temperatures averaged 42 degrees Fahrenheit for the month.

January's average temperature of 32.5 degrees was a full 4.4 degrees above normal. Still not warm enough to even get close to the top 10 warmest Januarys in Northern Ohio. The warmest was felt in 1932 when average temps rose to 40 degrees for the month.

Warm Januarys here are recent phenomenon. Top 10 warm January years include 2006, 1913 and 1880. Eight out of the 10 warmest Januarys in greater Cleveland occurred before 1951.

Snowfall, despite being low, is not on a record pace either. Our current total of 32 inches is nowhere near our least snowiest season back in 1918-1919. That season we measured only 8.8 inches. All of the top 10 snowless winters here have received a paltry 25 inches of snow or less.

I don't think we should get used to these mild winters, either. Data shows that winter temperatures in every climate zone in the country have decreased over the past 10 years. Great Lakes winter temperatures are down a full five degrees since 2001.

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